I’m reminded of this old Greek saying when I watch Fianna Fail flailing around in the pensions issue. Most TD’s could see this coming last week when the spotlight turned on Bank Of Ireland’s Richie Boucher.
When Richie was a young lad and went to boarding school the school’s motto was “constancy in the midst of change”. While Richie well and thoroughly ditched this motto last week it seems that FF back benchers are manfully standing like the last soldiers defending Stalingrad against the onslaught of the babarian hordes. Fianna Fail were notorious for their internal discipline but now it seems that Brian Cowen’s writ doesn’t run anymore as far as Ned O’Keeffe or Michel Woods. In O’Keeffe’s case he recently defended the light touch regulation regime of Bertie Ahern while he;s also on the record as describing the FF coalition as the most right wing government in the history of the state. Michael Woods has been here before over his pension, benefiting uniquely from an arrangement to circumvent pension conditions that Brian Cowen saw to, now there’s gratitude for you.
What really surprises me is that Cowen is like a spectator in all of this. Unable to enforce and unwilling to offend, Cowen’s loyalty to Woods and more so to Geoghegan Quinn, his original comrade in the Country and western set whose arrogance started off this issue on Friday, has gone un-rewarded. MGQ made it clear that she wasn’t having Deirdre De Burca but even an EU Commissioner isn’t god almighty as her predecessor and fellow member of the Country and Western Set Pee Flynn found out 11 years ago.
Why is that FF learn nothing and why is that they are condemned to repeat the errors of their past? Is it that they think we’ll forget it all or is it that we don’t elect the commissioner?
Whatever the reason FF are now left with their munificent 7. Ex ministers who stand up and be counted not in defending hospitals or schools or jobs but their incomes! Perhaps it’s that the ex-ministers feel that Cowen was central to their removal from office and that he legally can’t force them to return the pensions. It doesn’t hugely matter now whether the remaining pensions are returned or what value is out on the remaining pensions. The damage is done, people see FF TD’s dragging their heels on the matter. It’s not hugely relevant if FG TD’s keep the pension tax credits nor if they donate the value of the pension to local charities even though that is open to a cynical interpretation.
In the overall scheme of thing the amount of money involved is small but what is at risk in the minds of the voting public is incalculable. It’s interesting that once more it’s small sums of money that the individual can relate to while the large amounts used to bung Quinn Group make the electorate’s collective eyes glaze over.
But theirs one thing I suspect and this is it; This escapade will stay in the political conscience for a long time yet, it’ll be thrown at the door at all candidates from opposition parties.
FF knew what they were doing when they decided to string out the resignation process, to quote Jim Larkin; An injury to one is an injury to all; when one politician is damaged they’re all bruised.